Sulgrave Manor House
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska

Sulgrave Manor from Front

Location: Sulgrave is 7 m east of Banbury in the village of Sulgrave, and to the west of B4525 from Banbury to Northampton.

Structure: modest stone-built home.

Importance: Sulgrave Manor was owned by the ancestors of George Washington, first President of the United States.

Lawrence Washington was born in 1500 to John Washington and Margaret Kytson, and died February 19, 1581/2. Lawrence was a wool merchant. His first wife Elizabeth died without issue. Lawrence married his second wife, Anne Aimee (Amy) Pargiter (b. 1504) in 1538, in Sulgrave, England. Anne was the daughter of Robert Pargiter of Greatworth, near Sulgrave. In 1539, Lawrence bought the land surrounding the present estate, which amounted to about 1250 acres. The two story hall-block was built, by Lawrence Washington, in the 1560's. Lawrence's first born was Robert Washington (b. 1544) and he inherited Sulgrave Manor. Robert married Elizabeth Light in 1565. Their son Lawrence Washington was born in 1568. Robert died circa 1620 in Nether Boddinton, Northamptonshire, England. The estate was sold to a cousin named Lawrence Makepeace in 1610. The house left the Washington family in 1659. This was three years after Colonel John Washington, President George Washington's great-grandfather emigrated to Virginia. A kitchen and parlor were added at right angles to the hall block in 1700. After a time the house was owned by farmers and was reduced in size. It was bought just before World War II by an Anglo-American charitable trust. At this time, it was a shabby farmhouse. Sir Reginald Blomfield carried out a tactful restoration of the surviving portions of the manor. He also added a caretakers house. Furniture and Washington memorabilia was added and the house was open for public view in 1921. The Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington hangs in the hall.

Address:

Sulgrave Manor
Sulgrave, Banbury
Oxon 0X17 2SD.

The frontage of the manor is not as wide as it was in Tudor Times. The entrance to the house in Tudor Times was by the south. Above the door, in plaster, is the royal arms of Queen Elizabeth I, complete with crowned lions, fleur-de-lys, a Tudor Rose, and the initials "ER" standing for "Elizabeth Regina". Since Lawrence Washington was a wool merchant, there are lop-eared sheep and a lamb represented on this entrance as well.

For a look at this arms in detail see: Elizabeth I, Tudor Queen

Above the arms is a triangular device with small birds on each side. Below the window is the Washington Coat of Arms: three mullets (stars) and two bars (stripes).

Closeup of the north Sulgrave Porch

This porch was dated 1636. with a sundial over the door. The doorway is a four-centered arch, and the Tudor style dripstone and seat gable make an attractive entrance to the house. The dark stone is interspersed with the lighter material. This is the ironstone of the district which is blended with the Cotswold oolite, which can be found in Northamptonshire, England.

"Cotswold oolite" - In time shallow tropical seas, rich in life covered the clay. Over millions of years, sediments derived from the shells of marine organisms and from coral were formed to give limestone. In the Cotswolds this limestone deposit is high in shell and pebble content and is known as inferior oolite. If you look very closely at limestone you will find it is made up of tiny spherical particles, called ooliths, cemented together to form a texture rather like that of fish roe. Today it is used mainly in road building and lime burning.

Sulgrave Manor is an example of the vernacular architecture of Northampton County.

SOURCES:

Tyack, Geofrey and Steven Brindle, Country Houses of England, London: A&C Black, 1994, 389-390

Ditchfield, P. H., The Manor Houses of England. New York: Crescent Books, 1985, 125.

GEORGE WASHINGTON

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